July 6, 2016

Hair is everywhere

THE WORST THING about hair is that it never seems to rot or fade away into dust. Anyone who has lived on a boat for any length of time knows what I’m talking about. Hair is everywhere on a boat, inside and out. It’s all over the saloon floor. It gets stuck in your toes as you walk. Long strands of hair drape themselves with casual cockiness over your saucepans and newly washed plates in the galley. You’ll find it on faucets, mirrors, the toilet seat, in the bilge, everywhere. Hair is even a safety issue because it clogs drains and bilge pumps, and it never seems to rot or fade away into dust. 

Let’s face it, people are mobile hair factories. The stuff just keeps growing, and as fast as it grows it falls out. Frankly, I have never understood why humans grow hair in the first place. It must be a manufacturing defect. I mean, what use is it? Why do we have pubic hair, for instance? Surely our pubes can survive well enough without hair? What use is underarm hair? It’s hot and sweaty enough already under there. Why do I have hair on the back of my knuckles, for goodness’ sake? Yes, I can understand the need for hair on the head to prevent sunburn, but how do you account for the fact that as we age (and need even more sunburn protection) the damned hair falls off our heads and starts growing out of our ears and nostrils. Whaaat?

I can remember looking at the compass one dark night in mid-ocean and thinking I was hallucinating. It was a domed compass, saltwater-damp and glowing faint red, but with puzzling streaks all over, so that the white lubber line looked like a jagged thunderbolt. I ran a finger over it and the streaks gathered together into a thick string of hair.

And then, when I first got a Cape Dory 27, she had a beautiful cockpit grating made of teak. It was first-class workmanship, a wonderful piece of furniture, and probably worth as much as many boats. But the first time I lifted it up (because the cockpit drains didn’t seem to be working fast enough) I was astonished at what was trapped underneath. The bottom of each little hole was matted with clumps of hair — hair that had trapped and nurtured foul-smelling globs of gelatinous goo of such a virulent nature that it almost snarled at me.

So if I had my way (at least until there is a general recall of humans to redress our tonsorial defect) anyone coming aboard a boat of mine would either have to wear a hairnet or be shaved all over. Long hair, short hair, all gone, if you please. Some supporters of hirsuteness may well believe that hair has its place, but that place isn’t on any boat of mine.

Today’s Thought
Interest in hair today has grown to the proportions of a fetish. Think of the many loving ways in which advertisements refer to scalp hair—satiny, glowing, shimmering, breathing, living. Living, indeed! It is as dead as rope.
— Dr. William Montagna, Brown University

“And how’s the patient this morning, nurse?”
“Much better, doctor. He tried to blow the foam off his medicine.”


Marco Pinho said...

Dear John, I would like to ask your permission to rename my newly-acquired boat 'Freelance'. I don't know if such a request is even acceptable in the sailing world, so I'm okay with you saying 'no', in which case I might ask you if then naming her 'Freelancing' is cheating.

I've been an avid reader of your blog for about a year now, own a couple of your books (actually just purchased How to Rename Your Boat), and am trying to renew a neglected 1978 Valiant 32 that was given to me by a gentleman who desperately needed to free up his dock space. I'm 27 and plan on moving to it and sailing the world, following the advice I once read on your blog: "Go young, go small." I was in the process of renewing a Cape Dory 28, but might do a giveaway (possibly through your blog?) if the Valiant turns out to be sound after a survey on Monday.

To give the request some justification, I quit my job in 2013 and have been living the freelancing life ever since. I believe this mode is the future of the workforce, and that word carries a lot of meaning to me. My friend who is partaking on the renovation / future bluewater sailing with me has also recently joined our freelancing ranks. We can talk more over e-mail if you want to probe me before granting my admittedly audacious request.

Thank you,

On topic: I've been growing a well-kept afro but as soon as I move to the boat I might get razor-crazy very quickly.

John Vigor said...

Hi Marco, you don't need my permission to call your boat Freelance. There's no copyright on boat names, and there are already several other Freelances that I know of. Also a Freebooter or two. So go for it! You have my blessing and I hope your Valiant 32 turns out to be good and sound. It's a very nice design for a world cruiser.
All the best,
John V.

Marco Pinho said...

Awesome!! Just making sure, and letting you know your posts and your 31-foot sloop have been the inspiration for that. I'll do a proper denaming ceremony as per your instructions and video it. Will send you the link when it's done.